Ahhhh, fresh berries. Best when eaten out of hand fresh off the plant, wonderful when folded into muffin or scone batter, beautiful on top of homemade cake or a green salad. But the season is so fleeting, berries almost call out to be preserved to get us through the dark days of winter. That’s why I love to make berry jams. All kinds of berry jams; strawberry freezer jam, mulberry/blackberry jam, blueberry/raspberry jam, raspberry/apricot jam, and this wild all-berries jam.
Are you familiar with Gifford's Ice Cream? If not, you are missing a treat.
One summer when my children were toddlers and we lived in Maine, my husband had a job where he was gone for 14 days at a time. Believe me, those days were long for me and my boys! To help speed the time, we drove down the mountain at least once a week for some creamy Gifford's Ice Cream. The kids usually chose Smurf cones (I can't really remember how they were made but it involved very blue ice cream), but I was partial to Gifford’s Maine Wildberry flavor. It had a little bit of everything in it, along with actual berry chunks.
I had Wildberry in mind when I made this all-berries jam that uses raspberries, blueberries, blackberries, and strawberries. If you can't find Gifford's Maine Wildberry Ice Cream, the next best thing might be a scoop of good old vanilla topped with this homemade jam.
Before starting any canning project, it’s always a good idea to brush up on home canning safety tips. Lessons learned at Grandma’s knee might no longer be considered safe. Mother Earth News has published many canning articles that help keep us up-to-date, including the very helpful Home Canning Guide.
3 cups halved fresh strawberries
3 cups fresh blueberries
2 cups fresh blackberries
2 cups fresh red raspberries
6 cups sugar
Gently wash and drain berries. In a large pot, combine berries and sugar. Stir to combine. Rub top inner lip of pot with butter to prevent boiling over. Bring slowly to a boil, stirring often until sugar dissolves.
Cook rapidly to jellying point (about 218 – 220 degrees Fahrenheit), stirring often to prevent sticking. Be careful, jam has a tendency to "spit" as it starts to gel, and hot jam can cause burns. This is not the stage to have small children helping out. Pour into clean jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Cover with 2 piece caps and process in a boiling water bath for 15 minutes.
Yield 6 to 8 half pint jars.
Wild Berries Jam lends itself to personal experimentation. You can adjust the amount of any of the berries, or leave some berries out entirely, as long as the total amount remains the same. For example, you could leave out the blackberries and add 2 more cups of raspberries instead. Or you could use 5 cups of blueberries and only one cup each of blackberries and raspberries.
However, do not reduce the overall amount of berries or the sugar, or you may end up with a sugary mess that does not set. Stick to the basic recipe and each batch may be different, but they will all be delicious.